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Russian vice-premier points to cosmonaut team downsizing as planned measure

According to the Russian deputy PM, the cosmonaut team’s renewal is also related to the prospects of manned cosmonautics after 2024

MOSCOW, April 27. /TASS/. The Russian cosmonaut team’s downsizing is a planned measure related to its renewal, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday.

"This is due to the need to bring in younger members as the average age in the team is 53 years. This is quite a serious age for cosmonauts. This year, Roscosmos [state space corporation] has announced new enrollment. That is why, a planned renewal is under way," the vice-premier said.

"I don’t understand why there is such a cautious reaction. This is a planned renewal," Rogozin said.

As the Russian vice-premier said, the cosmonaut team’s renewal is also related to the prospects of manned cosmonautics after 2024.

"There must be something different. This is clearly obvious. This is because the International Space Station will operate until 2024. Will a national orbital station or other variants of piloted cosmonautics be created? All this is also linked with a new system of cosmonaut training and the use of robotic means that could substitute cosmonauts in especially complex areas," Rogozin said.

The Roscosmos inter-departmental commission for the selection of cosmonauts made a decision on April 24 to dismiss Sergei Volkov, Alexander Samokutyayev and Sergei Revin from the cosmonauts’ team.

Earlier, a TASS source in the aerospace sector said Volkov had submitted his resignation, while two other cosmonauts were removed from flights for medical reasons.

"The inter-departmental commission for the selection of cosmonauts and their assignment to the crews of manned spacecraft and stations made a decision at its April 21 session to recommend the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center to relieve Sergei Volkov of the duties of a 1st class test-cosmonaut and cosmonaut-instructor of the cosmonaut team, Alexander Samokutyayev of the duties of a test-cosmonaut and cosmonaut-instructor and deputy commander of the cosmonaut team and Sergei Revin of the duties of a 3rd class test-cosmonaut of the cosmonaut group," the press office of the Cosmonaut Training Center reported on Monday.

Volkov has three space flights on his record with a total duration of 547 days. He made four space walks with a total duration of 23 hours and 26 minutes. The cosmonaut made the first flight in 2008, followed by a second flight in 2011 and a third one that continued from September 2015 until March 2016.

Samokutyayev made two space flights - one in 2011 and another one in 2014. The total length of the two flights was 331 days, in which he also made two spacewalks.

Revin made one space flight in 2012, spending 125 days in outer space.

Earlier, cosmonaut Gennady Padalka who is a record-holder for the most time spent in outer space announced his decision to quit the cosmonaut team. He motivated his decision by the absence of prospects for performing his sixth space flight to set a record of 1,000-day stay in outer space. His current record is 878 days spent in outer space.